Satellite images show new burial sites in a cemetery in Qom, Iran in early March. (Provided: Maxar Technologies)
Satellite images seem to show evidence of mass burial pits in Iran to deal with an increasing number of coronavirus deaths, while experts question the official toll on Iranian victims.
- The Iranian government reported 429 deaths and 10,075 confirmed cases
- The videos were shared on social media showing body bags lined up in a morgue and locals told ABC that they believe the death toll is much higher than the government admits.
- Deputy Prosecutor Says “False” or Unauthorized Filming on Social Media Outbreaks Within the Country is Prohibited
A series of images showing the excavation of a new section of the cemetery in the city of Qom – the epicenter of the Iranian outbreak COVID-19 – which began around February 21, just two days after Iran reported its first cases of coronavirus, were published by the New York Times.
The images, provided to the Times by the US space technology company Maxar, show what appear to be new rows of tombs inside the city’s largest cemetery and increased activity around the new site.
@ntabrizy tweet: We discovered for the first time that the mass grave was being built in Iran via satellite imagery and then monitored how Iran got to this boiling point with the coronavirus.
Dalton Bennett, a reporter with the Washington Post investigative unit, tweeted that Maxar’s analysis revealed “the size of the new trenches and the speed with which they were excavated together mark a clear departure from previous burial practices involving individual and family plots on the site “.
The Iranian government reported 429 deaths and 10,075 confirmed cases, but Iranian internal health officials had previously told the BBC that the real number was much higher than reported.
Among the dead are dozens of officials, including members of Parliament and a senior adviser to the Supreme Chief.
Civilians inside Iran, who did not want to be named, told ABC that the death toll was in the thousands and the hospitals were so full that other public buildings were being used to house infected people.
Between 19 and 23 February, Iran reported 43 cases and eight deaths from viruses, but three exported cases originating in Iran were identified in the same period.
Among the dead are dozens of officials, including members of Parliament and a senior adviser to the Supreme Chief. (AP: Mahmood Hosseini)
‘We don’t trust official statistics’
A report published on the health sciences website medRxiv – entitled COVID-2019 burden estimate and potential for the international spread of infections from Iran – estimates that by February 23 “18,300 COVID-19 cases should have occurred in Iran , assuming an outbreak duration of 1.5 months in the country, in order to observe these three cases exported internationally reported at the time of writing. “
Health officials are conducting temperature checks in public spaces, including shopping malls in Iran. (AP: Vahid Salemi)
Kaveh Taheri, Turkish researcher, investigative journalist and president of the Human Rights Capacity Development Institute, said: “Based on the basic reports received by the country, I am convinced that the estimates would be very close to reality and we do don’t trust official statistics. “
“The Iranians inside the country are extremely scared,” he said.
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“You can’t imagine how desperate people are.”
The videos were also shared on social media showing body bags lined up in a morgue, tombs and people passed out on the street.
أحد الكوادر الطبية يوثق وفاة عشرات المصابين بفيروس كورونا بمدينة قم فقط, ويقول الوفيات كثر ولا يوجد مكان للجنائز من المصابين بكورونا .. بينما الحكومة الإيرانية تتستر على حجم الكارثة وتقول لا يوجد شي يدعو للقلق.!
A video shows multiple immovable bodies arranged on a morgue floor.
According to Iranian state media, the person who released the footage was subsequently arrested by local authorities.
A Qom deputy prosecutor, quoted by Fars News, said the publication of fake or unauthorized images of the virus is prohibited.
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